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This city is the most appealing among aspiring Gen Z homeowners

Gen Z homebuyers opting for smaller cities
Gen Z homebuyers opting for smaller, less expensive cities 04:10

The youngest cohort of adults in the U.S. has a clear preference when it comes to where they'd like to own a home. 

Salt Lake City, Utah, has the largest share of Gen Zers trying to get a foothold in the housing market, according to a new report from LendingTree, an online marketplace that matches mortgage applicants with lenders. 

Of the top 50 most populous metro areas in the U.S., Salt Lake City had the biggest share of Gen Zers bidding on homes, with nearly 23% of the area's mortgage requests on the LendingTree platform coming from adult members of the generation. 

While Gen Z comprises people born between 1997 and 2012, LendingTree's report studied only those between the ages of 18 and 25. 

Oklahoma City was the next most popular city among Gen Zers, with 22% of mortgage requests coming from the young generation. Birmingham, Alabama, followed, with 21%.

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Propensity for homebuying

On average, nearly 15% of aspiring homebuyers across the nation's 50 largest metro areas are members of the generation born after millennials, according to the report. 

Gen Zers are shying away from putting down roots in more expensive cities such as San Francisco and San Jose, California; and New York City. Those areas received the smallest share of mortgage requests from Gen Zers, according to LendingTree, which analyzed requests made from January through December 2022. 

While those cities appeal to younger adults, they're simply unaffordable for those who have only recently begun their careers and have little in savings. 

All in all, six of the 10 least popular metros for aspiring Gen Z homeowners are in California. 

"Many cities in California and places like New York and Washington, D.C., are really expensive parts of the country, so although there are lots of 23-year-olds that would love to buy a house in San Francisco or Brooklyn, the truth of the matter is it's really expensive," LendingTree senior economist and the report's author, Jacob Channel, told CBS MoneyWatch. "Younger people are in a situation where mortgage rates are high, home prices are high, and they haven't had careers for very long so they don't have as much savings."

To be sure, even contemplating purchasing one's first home is a distant dream for many Gen Zers. Channel noted that he suspects many of Gen Zers' mortgage applications are coming from wealthier members of the demographic. 

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But the data does indicate "that there is desire to buy, even in face of headwinds," Channel said. 

Salt Lake City appeals to aspiring young homeowners for its mix of city life as well as opportunities for outdoor recreation.

"If you get sick of the city, it's a quick drive to the mountains to take a hike, or to the lake to go kayaking, which is more challenging to do if you live in New York City," Channel said. "There's wilderness close by, but fewer people [in NYC] have cars and it's harder to get there than if you lived in Salt Lake."

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